ABSTRACT: Apoptotic protease-activating factor 1 (Apaf-1) is a component of apoptosome, which regulates caspase-9 activity. In addition to apoptosis, Apaf-1 plays critical roles in the intra-S-phase checkpoint; therefore, impaired expression of Apaf-1 has been demonstrated in chemotherapy-resistant malignant melanoma and nuclear translocation of Apaf-1 has represented a favorable prognosis of patients with non-small cell lung cancer. In contrast, increased levels of Apaf-1 protein are observed in the brain in Huntington's disease. The regulation of Apaf-1 protein is not yet fully understood. In this study, we show that etoposide triggers the interaction of Apaf-1 with Cullin-4B, resulting in enhanced Apaf-1 ubiquitination. Ubiquitinated Apaf-1, which was degraded in healthy cells, binds p62 and forms aggregates in the cytosol. This complex of ubiquitinated Apaf-1 and p62 induces caspase-9 activation following MG132 treatment of HEK293T cells that stably express bcl-xl. These results show that ubiquitinated Apaf-1 may activate caspase-9 under conditions of proteasome impairment.
Project description:Autocatalytic activation of an initiator caspase triggers the onset of apoptosis. In dying cells, caspase-9 activation is mediated by a multimeric adaptor complex known as the Apaf-1 apoptosome. The molecular mechanism by which caspase-9 is activated by the Apaf-1 apoptosome remains largely unknown. Here we demonstrate that the previously reported 1:1 interaction between Apaf-1 caspase recruitment domain (CARD) and caspase-9 CARD is insufficient for the activation of caspase-9. Rather, formation of a multimeric CARD:CARD assembly between Apaf-1 and caspase-9, which requires three types of distinct interfaces, underlies caspase-9 activation. Importantly, an additional surface area on the multimeric CARD assembly is essential for caspase-9 activation. Together, these findings reveal mechanistic insights into the activation of caspase-9 by the Apaf-1 apoptosome and support the induced conformation model for initiator caspase activation by adaptor complexes.
Project description:The Apaf-1 apoptosome is a multi-subunit caspase-activating scaffold that is assembled in response to diverse forms of cellular stress that culminate in apoptosis. To date, most studies on apoptosome composition and function have used apoptosomes reassembled from recombinant or purified proteins. Thus, the precise composition of native apoptosomes remains unresolved. Here, we have used a one-step immunopurification approach to isolate catalytically active Apaf-1/caspase-9 apoptosomes, and have identified the major constituents of these complexes using mass spectrometry methods. Using this approach, we have also assessed the ability of putative apoptosome regulatory proteins, such as Smac/DIABLO and PHAPI, to regulate the activity of native apoptosomes. We show that Apaf-1, caspase-9, caspase-3 and XIAP are the major constituents of native apoptosomes and that cytochrome c is not stably associated with the active complex. We also demonstrate that the IAP-neutralizing protein Smac/DIABLO and the tumor-suppressor protein PHAPI can enhance the catalytic activity of apoptosome complexes in distinct ways. Surprisingly, PHAPI also enhanced the activity of purified caspase-3, suggesting that it may act as a co-factor for this protease.
Project description:During stress-induced apoptosis, the initiator caspase-9 is activated by the Apaf-1 apoptosome and must remain bound to retain significant catalytic activity. Nevertheless, in apoptotic cells the vast majority of processed caspase-9 is paradoxically observed outside the complex. We show herein that apoptosome-mediated cleavage of procaspase-9 occurs exclusively through a CARD-displacement mechanism, so that unlike the effector procaspase-3, procaspase-9 cannot be processed by the apoptosome as a typical substrate. Indeed, procaspase-9 possessed higher affinity for the apoptosome and could displace the processed caspase-9 from the complex, thereby facilitating a continuous cycle of procaspase-9 recruitment/activation, processing, and release from the complex. Owing to its rapid autocatalytic cleavage, however, procaspase-9 per se contributed little to the activation of procaspase-3. Thus, the Apaf-1 apoptosome functions as a proteolytic-based 'molecular timer', wherein the intracellular concentration of procaspase-9 sets the overall duration of the timer, procaspase-9 autoprocessing activates the timer, and the rate at which the processed caspase-9 dissociates from the complex (and thus loses its capacity to activate procaspase-3) dictates how fast the timer 'ticks' over.
Project description:Apaf-1 is a cytosolic multi-domain protein in the apoptosis regulatory network. When cytochrome c releases from mitochondria; it binds to WD-40 repeats of Apaf-1 molecule and induces oligomerization of Apaf-1. Here in, a split luciferase assay was used to compare apoptosome formation in cell-free and cell-based systems. This assay uses Apaf-1 tagged with either N-terminal fragment or C-terminal fragment of P. pyralis luciferase. In cell based-system, the apoptosome formation is induced inside the cells which express Apaf-1 tagged with complementary fragments of luciferase while in cell-free system, the apoptosome formation is induced in extracts of the cells. In cell-free system, cytochrome c dependent luciferase activity was observed with full length Apaf-1. However, luciferase activity due to apoptosome formation was much higher in cell based system compared to cell-free system. The truncated Apaf-1 which lacks WD-40 repeats (?Apaf-1) interacted with endogenous Apaf-1 in a different fashion compared to native form as confirmed by different retention time of eluate in gel filtration and binding to affinity column. The interactions between endogenous Apaf-1 and ?Apaf-1 is stronger than its interaction with native exogenous Apaf-1 as indicated by dominant negative effect of ?Apaf-1 on caspase-3 processing.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Translationally controlled tumor protein (TCTP), alternatively called fortilin, is believed to be involved in the development of the chemoresistance of tumor cells against anticancer drugs such as etoposide, taxol, and oxaliplatin, the underlying mechanisms of which still remain elusive. METHODS: Cell death analysis of TCTP-overexpressing HeLa cells was performed following etoposide treatment to assess the mitochondria-dependent apoptosis. Apoptotic pathway was analyzed through measuring the cleavage of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and phospholipase C-? (PLC-?), caspase activation, mitochondrial membrane perturbation, and cytochrome c release by flow cytometry and western blotting. To clarify the role of TCTP in the inhibition of apoptosome, in vitro apoptosome reconstitution and immunoprecipitation was used. Pull-down assay and silver staining using the variants of Apaf-1 protein was applied to identify the domain that is responsible for its interaction with TCTP. RESULTS: In the present study, we confirmed that adenoviral overexpression of TCTP protects HeLa cells from cell death induced by cytotoxic drugs such as taxol and etoposide. TCTP antagonized the mitochondria-dependent apoptotic pathway following etoposide treatment, including mitochondrial membrane damage and resultant cytochrome c release, activation of caspase-9, and -3, and eventually, the cleavage of EGFR and PLC-?. More importantly, TCTP interacts with the caspase recruitment domain (CARD) of Apaf-1 and is incorporated into the heptameric Apaf-1 complex, and that C-terminal cleaved TCTP specifically associates with Apaf-1 of apoptosome in apoptosome-forming condition thereby inhibiting the amplification of caspase cascade. CONCLUSIONS: TCTP protects the cancer cells from etoposide-induced cell death by inhibiting the mitochondria-mediated apoptotic pathway. Interaction of TCTP with Apaf-1 in apoptosome is involved in the molecular mechanism of TCTP-induced chemoresistance. These findings suggest that TCTP may serve as a therapeutic target for chemoresistance in cancer treatment.
Project description:According to dogma, initiator caspases are activated through proximity-induced homodimerization, but some studies infer that during apoptosis caspase-9 may instead form a holoenzyme with the Apaf-1 apoptosome. Using several biochemical approaches, including a novel site-specific crosslinking technique, we provide the first direct evidence that procaspase-9 homodimerizes within the apoptosome, markedly increasing its avidity for the complex and inducing selective intramolecular cleavage at Asp-315. Remarkably, however, procaspase-9 could also bind via its small subunit to the NOD domain in Apaf-1, resulting in the formation of a heterodimer that more efficiently activated procaspase-3. Following cleavage, the intersubunit linker (and associated conformational changes) in caspase-9-p35/p12 inhibited its ability to form homo- and heterodimers, but feedback cleavage by caspase-3 at Asp-330 removed the linker entirely and partially restored activity to caspase-9-p35/p10. Thus, the apoptosome mediates the formation of caspase-9 homo- and heterodimers, both of which are impacted by cleavage and contribute to its overall function.
Project description:Apoptosome assembly is highly regulated in the intrinsic cell death pathway. To better understand this step, we created an improved model of the human apoptosome using a crystal structure of full length Apaf-1 and a single particle, electron density map at ~9.5 Å resolution. The apoptosome model includes N-terminal domains of Apaf-1, cognate ?-propellers, and cytochrome c. A direct comparison of Apaf-1 in the apoptosome and as a monomer reveals conformational changes that occur during the first two steps of assembly. This includes an induced-fit mechanism for cytochrome c binding to regulatory ?-propellers, which is dependent on shape and charge complementarity, and a large rotation of the nucleotide binding module during nucleotide exchange. These linked conformational changes create an extended Apaf-1 monomer and drive apoptosome assembly. Moreover, the N-terminal CARD in the inactive Apaf-1 monomer is not shielded from other proteins by ?-propellers. Hence, the Apaf-1 CARD may be free to interact with a procaspase-9 CARD either before or during apoptosome assembly. Irrespective of the timing, the end product of assembly is a holo-apoptosome with an acentric CARD-CARD disk and tethered pc-9 catalytic domains. Subsequent activation of pc-9 leads to a proteolytic cascade and cell death.
Project description:Caspases are critical for the initiation and execution of apoptosis. Nitric oxide (NO) or derived species can prevent programmed cell death in several cell types, reportedly through S-nitrosation and inactivation of active caspases. Although we find that S-nitrosation of caspases can occur in vitro, our study questions whether this post-translational modification is solely responsible for NO-mediated inhibition of apoptosis. Indeed, using Jurkat cells as a model system, we demonstrate that NO donors block Fas- and etoposide-induced caspase activation and apoptosis (downstream of mitochondrial membrane depolarization) and cytochrome c release. However, caspase activity was not restored by the strong reducing agent dithiothreitol, as predicted for S-nitrosation reactions, thereby excluding active-site-thiol modification of caspases as the only anti-apoptotic mechanism of NO donors in cells. Rather, we observed that processing of procaspases-9, -3 and -8 was decreased due to ineffective formation of the Apaf-1/caspase-9 apoptosome. Gel-filtration and in vitro binding assays indicated that NO donors inhibit correct assembly of Apaf-1 into an active approx. 700 kDa apoptosome complex, and markedly attenuate caspase-recruitment domain (CARD)-CARD interactions between Apaf-1 and procaspase-9. Therefore we suggest that NO or a metabolite acts directly at the level of the apoptosome and inhibits the sequential activation of caspases-9, -3 and -8, which are required for both stress- and receptor-induced death in cells that use the mitochondrial subroute of cell demise.
Project description:The cytosolic adaptor protein Apaf-1 is a key player in the intrinsic pathway of apoptosis. Binding of mitochondrially released cytochrome c and of dATP or ATP to Apaf-1 induces the formation of the heptameric apoptosome complex, which in turn activates procaspase-9. We have re-investigated the chain of events leading from monomeric autoinhibited Apaf-1 to the functional apoptosome in vitro. We demonstrate that Apaf-1 does not require energy from nucleotide hydrolysis to eventually form the apoptosome. Despite a low intrinsic hydrolytic activity of the autoinhibited Apaf-1 monomer, nucleotide hydrolysis does not occur at any stage of the process. Rather, mere binding of ATP in concert with the binding of cytochrome c primes Apaf-1 for assembly. Contradicting the current view, there is no strict requirement for an adenine base in the nucleotide. On the basis of our results, we present a new model for the mechanism of apoptosome assembly.
Project description:Apoptosis is a highly regulated form of programmed cell death, essential to the development and homeostasis of multicellular organisms. Cytochrome c is a central figure in the activation of the apoptotic intrinsic pathway, thereby activating the caspase cascade through its interaction with Apaf-1. Our recent studies have revealed 14-3-3? (a direct inhibitor of Apaf-1) as a cytosolic cytochrome c target. Here we explore the cytochrome c / 14-3-3? interaction and show the ability of cytochrome c to block 14-3-3?-mediated Apaf-1 inhibition, thereby unveiling a novel function for cytochrome c as an indirect activator of caspase-9/3. We have used calorimetry, NMR spectroscopy, site mutagenesis and computational calculations to provide an insight into the structural features of the cytochrome c / 14-3-3? complex. Overall, these findings suggest an additional cytochrome c-mediated mechanism to modulate apoptosome formation, shedding light onto the rigorous apoptotic regulation network.